What are they used for? Serious question.
Geez man. I love how you've thrown in class warfare to this thread about small amps. I've got news for you, unless you're a paid professional, all gear are toys. It doesn't matter if it's a full 100 watt stack or a 1/2 watt amp. Also, I love your blanket statement about how all small amps sound awful. Looking at the gear in your signature, I'm really glad our ears hear things differently. What's good tone to you might be horrible tone to someone else. I was playing my JMP1 until about 3:00am last night in my small condo. If you think it's practical and sounds better to have a 100 watter, a 4x12 and an attenuator then more power to you but I've tried that and the results weren't nearly as good as my 1-watters. If you like to listen to a 100 watter on 1 all the time then that's great. Others might like something else like a 1-watt amp.They originally cropped up as very cheap tube practice amps. This was circa 2005, before cheap tube amps were actually a regular thing and making them inexpensive required real dedication to cutting back. You get the Blackhearts, the Valve Jr, etc from this time period. At some point they transformed into an insane boutique thing where people started designing extremely expensive non master volume amps which could saturate power sections at home volumes. This arguably culminates in the series of Marshall 1W reissues that we've seen over the last few years.
Neither of these things has any relevance to modern circuits, frankly. Companies have more or less cracked the code on inexpensive full featured tube amps, and the savings you get from the smaller power sections (often $100 or so) are arguably not worth the immense loss of power and flexibility. Simultaneously, most modern circuits are not designed to rely on power tube saturation. It's a practicality issue and we've had good preamp based saturation for a few decades now.
I know someone's going to take offense at my post, but the long and short of it is that the micro amps are toys. They're only relevant to the at-home-with-too-much-money crowd. H&K can attenuate a 20W output down to 1W and even line level without destroying the sound. We have a lot of really good sounding preamps, and some of these are systems that have been used frequently in professional environments. We have very high quality attenuators for not THAT much money. Bringing back the old style power tube saturation and cutting the power to the bone is a step backwards. These tiny power sections don't even saturate nicely. Sorry, but a 12BH7 running flat out sounds awful.
The best part is some of the builders have the nerve to label these as "recording amps". If you're recording and you can't let a normal sized amp breathe a little bit, just go to digital with some decent IRs. It will sound better than the micro heads.
Yes well getting noise complaints from your neighbors doesn't sound like a main concern for you so I'm guessing you're not the target market of low wattage amps.Interestingly, if I want lower volume with one of my amps, I turn it down. However, when I need/want "the tone" when playing with my band or even at home, I have it on tap, turn it up and have tone for days.
I only have one MV amp. Would rather turn volume way down and goose the front end with a good boost pedal to drive the tone at low volumes. IMHO, I would simply rather have bigger iron, more power and tunes cooking, and more speakers on tap when I want them.
+1. I wouldn't touch any of that gear listed nor would I trash talk it like he just did.Also, I love your blanket statement about how all small amps sound awful. Looking at the gear in your signature, I'm really glad our ears hear things differently.
The JMP1, and most of the Marshall 1W RI amps, are a bit of a curiosity because they're recreations of amps that are extremely impractical for home practice. That said, I think a JMP1 sounds pretty bad (and not very much like a JMP) and I can think of a few solid state amps I'd rather have in a practice situation. (Pathfinder and Blues Cube, primarily.)What's good tone to you might be horrible tone to someone else. I was playing my JMP1 until about 3:00am last night in my small condo.
The amps I listed in my sig are 20W, 50W, and digital. Frankly I'm quite tired of the 50W and the digital board and they're both on sale. (I also have an 18W build but that's a different ball game all together.) My 20W has proven to be useful and produce a sound I like from volumes I can barely hear to gig volumes and beyond. Lucky me I guess.If you think it's practical and sounds better to have a 100 watter, a 4x12 and an attenuator then more power to you but I've tried that and the results weren't nearly as good as my 1-watters. If you like to listen to a 100 watter on 1 all the time then that's great.
People are free to like whatever, but Aquinas makes a lot of good points about the design issues in low wattage amps.Others might like something else like a 1-watt amp.